New Jersey Commission Recommends Abolition of the Death Penalty

EXECUTION REPRIEVES
Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio granted temporary reprieves to three inmates scheduled for execution in the next 5 weeks in order to allow more time to consider whether clemency should be granted: Kenneth Biros, James Filiaggi, and Christopher Newton. (Jan. 19, 2007). See Clemency.

MENTAL COMPETENCY
The Indiana Supreme Court has stayed the January 19 execution Norman Timberlake pending the outcome of Panetti v. Quarterman in the U.S. Supreme Court. Panetti concerns the standard for mental incompetency which would render an execution unconstitutional. (Jan. 17, 2007). See Supreme Court and Mental Illness.

LETHAL INJECTION
The California Attorney General and Governor have informed the federal court overseeing the lethal injection process in that state that they will make their recommendations for reforming the existing execution protocol by May 15, 2007. They have asked the court for a protective order to shield their deliberations from the attorneys representing Michael Morales, the death row inmate who challenged the state's process. (Jan. 16, 2007).
See Lethal Injection.

New Jersey Commission Recommends Abolition of State's Death Penalty

On January 2, 2007, the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission issued its report to the state legislature and the governor. The 13-member Commission conducted five days of hearings with testimony from a broad spectrum of witnesses addressing key death penalty concerns. The Commission concluded that "There is no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent."

The County Prosecutors' Association of New Jersey concurred with the final recommendations of the Commission Report. Here are the principal recommendations and findings:

RECOMMENDATIONS
The Commission recommends that the death penalty in New Jersey be abolished and replaced with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, to be served in a maximum security facility. The Commission also recommends that any cost savings resulting from the abolition of the death penalty be used for benefits and services for survivors of victims of homicide.

FINDINGS
(1) There is no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent.

(2) The costs of the death penalty are greater than the costs of life in prison without parole, but it is not possible to measure these costs with any degree of precision.

(3) There is increasing evidence that the death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.

(4) The available data do not support a finding of invidious racial bias in the application of the death penalty in New Jersey.

(5) Abolition of the death penalty will eliminate the risk of disproportionality in capital sentencing.

(6) The penological interest in executing a small number of persons guilty of murder is not sufficiently compelling to justify the risk of making an irreversible mistake.

(7) The alternative of life imprisonment in a maximum security institution without the possibility of parole would sufficiently ensure public safety and address other legitimate social and penological interests, including the interests of the families of murder victims.

(8) Sufficient funds should be dedicated to ensure adequate services and advocacy for the families of murder victims.

(New Jersey Death Penalty Commission Report, January 2007).

Read the entire REPORT. See DPIC's Life Without Parole and Studies.